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Genetic analysis and physiology of a trait for enhanced K+/Na+ discrimination in wheat


Variation for K+ and Na+ accumulation at low salinities in hydroponic (water) culture were observed in shoots of different wheat species. Greater discrimination (in favour of K+ and against Na+ accumulation) was shown by hexaploid bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) than by tetraploid durum wheat (T. turgidum L.). Since Aegilops tauschii Cosson (A. squarrosa L.), the source of the D genome in bread wheat, also exhibited high discrimination between K+ and Na+, it was concluded that the character resided in the D genome. Studies of aneuploid bread wheat lines and disomic substitution lines of D genome chromosomes for their A and B genome homoeologues in durum wheat cv. Langdon revealed that the trait was controlled by the long arm of chromosome 4D. Since the aneuploid and disomic substitution lines showed better relative salt tolerance than durum wheat, but had lower yield potentials, we recombined chromosome 4D with chromosome 4B in a tetraploid wheat background using a homoeologous pairing mutant. This produced families of 4D/4B recombinant lines, some of which exhibited the enhanced K+/Na+ discrimination trait. RFLP analysis confirmed that the trait was controlled by a single gene (Kna1) which was completely linked to five markers on the distal third of the long arm of 4D. A second cycle of homoeologous recombination was employed to remove the distal 4D genetic material from the recombined Kna1 4B/4D chromosome and to map Kna1 in greater detail. By this strategy, Kna1 was mapped within a short 2 cM region. Genetic analysis of K+: Na+ ratios showed very high LOD scores in this region for plants grown in solution culture, but lower values for plants grown in the field. In general, recombinant lines which exhibited the enhanced K+/Na+ trait were slightly more tolerant of salinity in the field and in sand culture than recombinants lacking the trait. There was, however, considerable variation between individual lines. Ion discrimination and relative tolerance were also higher in a Kna1 recombinant (line no. R3) than in a kna1 recombinant (line no. R165) in sodic conditions. In these two lines the enhanced K+/Na+ discrimination trait did not alter responses to low potassium or calcium supply.

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